Eagles soar above minor premiers to claim third Under 18 flag in four years
WOODVILLE-WEST Torrens has upset minor premier Glenelg by 17 points on Saturday afternoon to claim a third SANFL Under 18s flag in four years. The Eagles incited a remarkable 70-point turnaround from their semi-final loss to the Bays just a fortnight ago, even without the services of their best player on that day, Jase Burgoyne.
Bottom-age midfielder Adam D’Aloia was awarded the Alan Stewart Medal as best afield, proving a worthy recipient for his game-high 30 disposals, eight clearances and nine inside 50s. Winning skipper Jordan Lukac, who booted crucial consecutive goals at the start of term four, also marked his 19th birthday with the memorable victory which read 13.8 (86) to 10.9 (69).
The Eagles led at every break but Glenelg made arguably the better start, as Jack Harding opened the scoring in term one. After the Bays built a 10-point lead, Woodville-West Torrens clicked into gear with a run of three goals in five minutes to surge ahead by nine points at the first break, converting from a clinical spurt of six inside 50s.
Having built a block of momentum, the Eagles carried it into the second quarter as Sam Nicholls popped up with back-to-back majors to stretch his side’s unanswered run to five goals. Glenelg’s steadiers came via the reliable boots of Hugh Stagg and Harry Tunkin, before another frantic end to the term saw three goals added in as many minutes. Woodville-West Torrens had the last laugh, boosting its half time buffer to 13 points.
In what looked an ominous sign of things to come, the Eagles nabbed an important six-pointer within the first minute of the second half, but it lead to a tense 20-minute stalemate where the majors dried up. Eagles speedster Jay Watson eventually broke the deadlock and secured a then game-high 25-point lead, before Jakob Ryan hit back almost instantly to give Glenelg a sniff heading into the last break.
With quick goals a must for the Tigers, they could not quite convert in the clutch and Lukac made them pay by sending home two in the first five minutes. The Eagles began to wind the clock down with over 10 minutes left, before Glenelg added three late consolation goals to trim the losing margin to 17 points. It proved much too little, too late as the Eagles again saluted in the junior grade.
While D’Aloia’s midfield dominance proved a key factor, the Eagles were also served well by an almost impenetrable backline. Will Neumann (21 disposals) set the tone with his physicality, while Charlie Adams (18) provided plenty of drive as tall pair Liam Ueding and Jonte Hunter-Price chimed in aerially.
Charlie Blair booted two goals from 19 touches and Brock Thomson (nine rebound 50s) was another defensive standout, while Nicholls’ three goals broke the game open and Cormack O’Reilly was a sound outside outlet. Competition leading goal kicker Will Pearce also worked hard up the ground, with Lukac and Lukas Cooke fellow forward threats.
For Glenelg, Harrison Kaesler had the most ball with 29 disposals and seven marks, followed closely by Lewis Rayson (27 and seven). Hunter Window worked hard as usual on a wing with Cooper Beecken complimenting him on the other, while bottom-ager Ryan was impressive in his work up the ground, clunking nine marks (five contested).
Skipper Stagg and Tunkin both had their chances to convert inside 50, and Oscar Adams played a key role in defence before shifting into the ruck. Up forward, Harding was the main source of goals with a total of three to go with his usually strong marking. Two of his majors came in the last 10 minutes of the game.
South Australia’s brightest Under 19 prospects, including a bunch from either side of this contest, can now look forward to representing their state on AFL Grand Final day. The Croweaters take on Western Australia for a second time this season, jerking the curtain for this year’s top flight decider in Perth.
GLENELG 3.0 | 6.2 | 7.6 | 10.9 (69)
EAGLES 4.3 | 8.3 | 10.5 | 13.8 (86)
Glenelg: J. Harding 3, C. Brougham, B. Ridgway, J. Ryan, H. Stagg, W. Trevena, H. Tunkin, W. Wiseman
Eagles: S. Nicholls 3, C. Blair 2, J. Lukac 2, J. Watson 2, L. Cooke, A. D’Aloia, B. Mair, M. Phillipou
Glenelg: L. Rayson, J. Ryan, H. Kaesler, H. Window, C. Beecken, J. Harding
Eagles: A. D’Aloia, W. Neumann, C. Adams, B. Thomson, C. O’Reilly, S. Nicholls
Alan Stewart Medal: Adam D’Aloia (Woodville-West Torrens)
Featured Image: Eagles captain Jordan Lukac gets a kick away | Credit: Glenelg FC